Jeronimo Martins has announced that net profit soared by 30 per cent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2010, up to €42.3m from €32.5m recorded in 2009.

Total sales at the Portuguese group increased by 21.8 per cent, or 14.1 per cent on a constant exchange rate basis, to hit €1.96bn, up from €1.6bn in the corresponding period last year.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 17.5 per cent, or 9.4 per cent on a constant exchange rate basis, to €118.3m, while consolidated net debt was reduced by €201.4m to a total of €735.2m.

In Portugal, Pingo Doce's like-for-like sales climbed 9.7 per cent despite the impact of deflation, while Biedronka, the group's Polish operation, enjoyed considerable sales growth of 36.7 per cent in euro terms.

'The performance of the various business models during the first three months of the year was in line with the objectives outlined by the group, while revealing very strong market positions,' the group said in a statement. 'This performance thus confirms the positive expectations of a very robust evolution of sales and results until the end of 2010.

'The Jeronimo Martins Group therefore maintains as one of its key priorities to advance its market shares through LFL sales, with EBITDA being expected to grow at least in tandem with sales.'